Saturday December 26, 2015

Ladbrokes League One

Airdrieonians

3-4

Cox 8
Watt 29
Cadden 78 Pen

Peterhead

McAllister 25 Pen
Strachan 84
Brown 88
Gilchrist 90

Airdrie suffered defeat at the hands of Peterhead who delivered a knockout blow in the last minute of the Boxing Day clash at a rainy and windswept New Broomfield.

The match marked the first game in charge for new Diamonds boss Eddie Wolecki Black, but it wasn’t to be the perfect start for the former Glasgow City coach.

In a game that was packed with incident and goals, the Blue Toon were the side to make the most of their chances and steal a march on Airdrie as the promotion playoff race begins to heat up.

Wolecki Black made two changes to the side that lost at Cowdenbeath last week, with Adam Brown replacing Bryan Prunty and Chris O’Neil returning to the starting 11 ahead of David Van Zanten.

It was Airdrie who were to make the brighter start in the game, taking the lead in the 8th minute through former Peterhead striker David Cox. Jamie Bain made a good run down the right flank before cutting the ball inside for Cox; he made some space for himself before looking up and firing a wicked shot which swerved into the top corner past Peterhead keeper Graeme Smith.

Peterhead began to work their way into the game and created a good opportunity in the 15th minute. A clever ball over the top beat Alan Lithgow and found Leighton McIntosh, he squared to Rory McAllister, but his shot was well blocked by the Airdrie defence.

The first real flash point of the game came in the 20th minute as a ball through to Airdrie striker Taylor Morgan saw him hauled back by Ryan Strachan. With Morgan bearing down on the Peterhead goal, the Diamonds supporters vigorously called for a red card, but referee Craig Charleston adjudged the incident to be a yellow card offence.

Only a minute later, things were about to take another dramatic turn, as Airdrie were reduced to 10 men. Neil Parry attempted to come and punch a floated ball into the Airdrie penalty box; however, the big keeper was beaten to it by McIntosh who was able to direct a header goal ward before being caught in the face by Parry. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, before giving Parry his marching orders.

Substitute keeper Rohan Ferguson came on to replace Adam Brown and his first task was to face McAllister’s penalty; but the prolific hitman coolly slotted his spot kick down the middle, sending Ferguson diving to his right.

However, Airdrie seemed galvanised by the red card and penalty, finding themselves in front again just four minutes later. Some good work by Morgan saw him gain possession out wide before feeding Liam Watt who side stepped his man and fired a low shot in off the post past the outstretched arm of Smith.

Peterhead began to make use of their man advantage and cranked up the pressure on the Airdrie defence. However, efforts on goal from McAllister, substitute Shane Sutherland and former Diamond Nathan Blockley all flew wide of the mark or over the bar, failing to trouble Ferguson.

Airdrie finished the half with a couple of chances of their own with Cox pulling the strings for the Diamonds. First, he set up substitute Caolan McAleer whose shot whistled just over the bar, and then two minutes later, fed the ball to Nicky Cadden who turned his man well but could only fire into the arms of Smith.

Peterhead forced Airdrie onto the back foot in the second half and caused all sorts of trouble for the Airdrie backline with deliveries into the box. The introduction of Jamie Stevenson and Nicky Riley saw the away side pose a constant threat in the wide areas of the park. However, despite a barrage of crosses and constant pressure, efforts from Sutherland, Jamie Redman and Steven Noble all failed to hit the target.

In the 72nd minute it looked like Peterhead had found their equaliser as McAllister wriggled through a packed Airdrie defence. Ferguson came out and managed to block with his legs, but the ball broke free in the six yard box and was superbly cleared by Chris O’Neil before it could be turned into the empty net.

Airdrie finally managed to break out and hit Peterhead on the counter after soaking up pressure for most of the half and were rewarded for their efforts.

After a lovely one-two between McAleer and O’Neil in the 77th minute, Cox squared the ball for Cadden who was about to pull the trigger before being bundled over by Noble. The referee was left with no choice but to send the Peterhead defender off. Cadden then dusted himself down before confidently dispatching the penalty to make it 3-1.

However, Airdrie’s two goal cushion wasn’t to be enough to see them clinch victory as they endured a horrific final ten minutes of the match.

In the 82nd minute, Nicky Riley wasn’t closed down and his looping effort from the edge of the box bounced off the top of Ferguson’s bar before being cleared. Airdrie didn’t heed this warning though and only a minute later, a Peterhead cross was cleared only as far as Strachan who rifled the ball into the top corner.

Peterhead then found themselves level with only two minutes of normal time left on the clock. A chipped ball into the area beat Sean Crighton and fell to Jordan Brown who brought it down before slotting it past Ferguson.

In the 90th of the match, Peterhead rubbed salt in Airdrie wounds by snatching all 3 points at the death. The ball was played wide to McAllister who whipped in a cross that was bulleted home by Ally Gilchrist.

It was a cruel end to the match for the Diamonds who battled hard, despite being down to 10 men for well over an hour. However, Eddie Wolecki Black will need to pick his team up quickly ahead of the clash with Stenhousemuir at New Broomfield on Tuesday night.

John O'Brien at New Broomfield.

Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.

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